By Amber Khlat
The ignition of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in the “Paris of the Middle East” decimated Beirut. Lebanese people are still feeling the pain and suffering from the blast. The city is filled with destroyed homes, and only a few overcrowded hospitals are still standing. Children robbed of futures of hope and joy are witnessing their country in utter despair amidst the toxicity of the government.
With discontent already brewing prior to the explosion, the severe strain to a country already buckling under a significant economic depression, civil unrest, COVID-19 and the hosting of roughly two million refugees, the explosion exacerbated the economic and food insecurity situation. The port, which is now destroyed, was a major entry point for aid from which Lebanon imported 85% of its food. With Beirut paralyzed, the corrupt elites are providing absolutely nothing, no bead of sweat or show of support. This is an ongoing humanitarian emergency.
Six months after the blast, efforts are underway to rebuild Beirut with the estimated $15 billion of damage. The Lebanese population has suffocated under politicians who knew full well the immense dangers of keeping these explosive materials in the port. This explosion left 300,000 people homeless, 6,000 severely injured and over 200 dead. The calamity that has hit the city is immense and seemingly impossible to recover from.
The port is emblematic of everything the Lebanese protestors say is wrong with their government. Dysfunction and corruption are hard-wired into nearly every aspect of the operation. After the deadly explosion wreaked havoc on Beirut, there is yearning for an opportunity of hope to emerge to establish a new relationship between the Lebanese government and its people.